It was billed as the two undefeated teams in the Sunset League going head-to-head. The Trojans and the Clark Chargers went at each other for the league title and top seeds in the regional tournament on Valentine’s Day.
Trojans Coach Craig Rieger said prior to the match that he knew some things about Clark.
“Last year we wrestled Clark and we knew they had good heavyweights. We had seen them earlier in the year at the Holiday Classic and their heavyweights did well. We knew their 195 pounder, Michael Hervis, and their 220 pounder Edwin Centeno, were two returning seniors. We knew they were just good,” Rieger said.
The coach said Clark changed their lineup because they wanted their seniors to start the meet, so they started the meet with the heavyweight division. The Trojans had their top six undefeated wrestlers going first and this was fine with Rieger. Jace Clayton started off against Jacob Chaparian and won by decision. Then the Trojans’ Jeremy Coates went up against Centeno and lost by major decision 15-2. This was his first loss in league. Jaxon Clayton wrestled Michael Hervis next and also lost to him in a major decision 14-5 and that was Jax’s first loss in conference. Things were not off to a good start for Pahrump and had some people worried. Abraham Preciado, at 182 pounds then lost to Clark’s Alexander Floyd in a close decision 10-7.
These losses put the team at 10-3 in points behind Clark.
“Abraham made a mistake and lost 10-7. He can beat that kid,” Rieger said.
After these three upsetting losses for the Trojans, Rieger said his team then blasted the Chargers middle lineup to take the meet 46-17.
“They beat us at first and we were down 10-3 early on in the match and then we ended up winning the next nine matches. There were no surprises. Clark was very defensive. They did not wrestle us aggressive. They were very closed up,” he said.
When Rieger was asked if the Clark wrestlers were going to prevent the Trojans heavyweights from qualifying at state, he replied, “When both conferences come together, the top four qualify for state. Jaxon and Jeremy were undefeated, so we took the loss. We will have a tougher time, but truthfully I still think they will make the finals,” the coach said.
At the close of the night, the Trojans still had five undefeated wrestlers in conference. Rieger was satisfied with his lineup going into regionals on Feb. 14.
“Afterwards we did not think we wrestled the best. Clark wrestled defensively. It was a long night of wrestling. We are back to back champions,” he said with a smile.
He now said he has to get his boys solid practices before regionals at Mojave High School. He knows he has to wrestle the 5-6 quality wrestlers that Virgin Valley, the number one Sunrise League Champions, will have.
“Virgin Valley, they have five or six outstanding wrestlers and in a dual we can beat them. When we go to individuals, those 5-6 individuals will be wrestling for the state championships. That makes a difference. We are good all the way through. We are OK, but we have to have individual studs to be state champions. We all know the North is tough,” Rieger concluded.